Christendom lasted for over 700 years but eventually cracks had to show. Intellectually, some monasteries eventually became the fledgling universities, bringing forward the philosophical Schoolmen, principle among them St Thomas Aquinas, who argued for natural and revealed theology. One was given by God, the other understood by man. It was the first move towards science proper.
This was furthered by the Spanish Reconquest of the 11th century. Islam had kept Classical knowledge alive, and it now fell into the hands of European intellectuals who learnt of Aristotle and the other philosophers – an intellectual system that pre-dated Christianity. In Italy, several states were united and became the vanguard of learning, with patrons such as the Medici encouraging the rediscovered knowledge.
The main reason was the growth of the merchant. Now they gathered in newly thriving cities, headed by Burghers, breaking the hold of Feudalism. The Venetian merchants began to trade with the wider world, increasing their wealth. In northern Europe further trade alliances grew such as the Hanseatic League. The Bill of Exchange came into being, leading to banks by the early 17th century.
Power was beginning to move away from Christendom, causing a new explosion of art, still entwined with Christianity, but based on the Classical period. This was the time of da Vinci and Michelangelo, and the great architects of Venice and Florence. The time was known as the Renaissance. A new spirit of Humanism was birthed, centred upon the person and not the religion, and the invention of the printing press meant this new knowledge was increasingly available.
Europe was also changing politically. Peasant Revolts had broken out. In England, the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 first limited the power of Kings. The Hundred Years War between England and France, the high point being the Battle of Agincourt of 1415, and the French success under Joan of Arc, ended. In 1346 the bubonic plague, known as the Black Death, began to ravage Europe, leaving a weakened system and a people hungry for change.
The centre of the Holy Roman Empire transferred to the principalities that would become Germany in 939, the empire run by a number of Electors from 1257. From then on, the future Germany was on the rise, forever gnawing at the hold the Pope had on them. Things were now changing fast, and soon the rest of the world would know about the European. But what of that wider world?
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